In his 1992 book, The Intellectuals and the Masses, John Carey documents the contempt in which the early twentieth century literati held mass produced, tinned food:
E. M. Forster’s Leonard Bast eats tinned food, a practice that is meant to tell us something significant about Leonard, and not to his advantage. The Norwegian Knut Hamsun waged intermittent war in his novels against tinned food, false teeth and other modern nonsense. T. S. Eliot’s typist in The Waste Land ‘lays out food in tins’. John Betjeman deplores the appetite of the masses for ‘Tinned fruit, tinned meat, tinned milk, tinned beans’. Tinned salmon is repeatedly a feature of lower-class cuisine in Graham Greene....George Orwell, in The Road to Wigan Pier, maintains that the First World War could never have happened if tinned food had not been invented. He blames tinned food for destroying the health of the British people. ‘We may find in the long run that tinned food is a deadlier weapon than the machine gun.’
I can't think of a better reminder of how quickly and easily the controversial and provocative can transition to the essential and mundane than this. Who today doesn't use tinned food? And have you ever heard of anyone speak of it with any kind of emotional attachment at all? If you have, I suggest finding yourself some new circles to move in, before it's too late for all of us.
Tinned food is one of the greatest inventions of mankind, actually. It keeps forever, or more or less, and aluminium tins can be easily recycled, even though (surprise surprise) the usual suspects in the world of capitalist fucktardery apparently don't care. But I grew up on Blue Peter. I care.
While googling around in preparation for this post, I discovered that you can even earn a bit of extra money by selling aluminum cans directly to recycling centres, something I perhaps should look into. Or perhaps you should. Let's all do a bit of that.
An alternative is to take the cans you have and reuse them for more artistic purposes. This is what I've been doing recently. My two kittens get through almost one tin a day between them, leaving me with a steady supply I'd been putting straight into the recycling until it occurred to me I might use them for plant pots. Thus:
With the labels removed and the tins rinsed out, I banged a few holes into the bottom of each. Then, I painted them.
I applied a second coat after the first had dried, but it wasn't really necessary. And then:
My lavender plants have been doing well recently, so there's no shortage of material for cuttings. And so it was that my recycled tin can lavender nursery was born. Take that, T S Elliot.